By Megan Schilling
“Is virginity a blessing or a curse?”
Students crowded in the Library Auditorium as they pondered this question asked by College alumna Kayla Termyna (’16). It may be a biological topic, but virginity also has the tendency to spark social controversy.
The Virginity Monologues, hosted by Women in Learning and Leadership, was held on Nov. 14 in part of the organization’s Redefining Sex Week.
“We wanted to provide different events that would get people to think more critically about sex and what it means to us,” said Rachel Smith, a sophomore women’s, gender and sexuality studies major and WILL’s programming co-chair.
Students were able to share their personal experiences with virginity, how it has affected their lives and their overall opinions on the subject as a concept and social construct.
Termyna, the former vice executive chair for WILL, devoted her time to coordinate the Virginity Monologues after graduating.
After attending Redefining Sex Week events as an undergraduate, Termyna was shocked at the impact sex culture has on students and decided to embrace her virginity.
“I’m greatly empowered by virginity,” Termyna said. “I’ve literally made it the most interesting thing about myself. Even though it’s important to me, I think it’s also important to recognize that to someone else it may not be a big deal at all.”
Termyna opened the floor for discussion using Kahoot! to take a poll on the audience’s view of virginity.
Six students voted that virginity is a “blessing,” seven voted “curse” and 23 voted “it’s complicated.”
“Virginity originally became important because men needed it to prove their paternity,” Termyna said. “Over time, societal values have been regulated to place value on this, and this somehow translated into women being the moral compasses of society.”
For some women like Termyna, the topic of virginity is very important, while others choose not to give it much attention.
Sarah Pawlowski, a sophomore journalism and professional writing major and member of WILL, discussed how virginity has impacted her.
“To me, virginity was always something that was about as important as my astrological sign,” Pawlowski said. “It was a part of me but I never let it dictate my life.”
The concept of virginity is different for everyone, and each person can interpret it in a different way, according to Smith.
Some people find that it plays an important role in relationships, while others find that it’s simply a natural part of life.
“I’m aware of sex, but I honestly forget that sex is something that happens,” said Rebecca Conn, a junior mathematics major and community service chair for WILL.
Through their monologues, the speakers tackled the idea of the inconsistent definitions of virginity and why people often think differently of people who are virgins and those who are not.
In attempting to answer these questions, Smith recognizes that religion and moral incentive can play an important role.
“Where we get our perception of virginity from comes from our family and whether or not they have religious ties or affiliations,” Smith said. “We craft what we think of virginity from what we’re told.”
The overall theme of the monologues was to talk about what virginity means to each person, and that there’s not a concrete definition, according to Smith.
The audience adopted a feeling of encouragement when the need to be ready, to be safe, and to not let others pressure you when it comes to sex, was emphasized.
Gigi Garrity, a junior psychology major and vice executive chair of WILL, discussed the pressures she felt from a young relationship.
“I didn’t understand the power of my own body and how rad I was,” Garrity said.
Today, Garrity feels comfortable talking about sex openly, but stresses that it’s best to wait until an individual is ready and comfortable to do so.
“The reason why I like to speak about this so much is because sex can be an amazing, awesome, wonderful (and a) very gratifying experience for both parties,” Garrity said.
Smith continued this theme of empowerment, as well as the idea that others’ opinions about one’s personal choices do not matter.
“It shouldn’t matter who you’re doing it with or what others think, as long as you’re doing it for yourself,” Smith said.
Despite each speaker’s view on this often taboo topic, all women recognized the importance of not letting virginity define them.